Sure, Billy Joel and Elton John are a big deal . . . for some people. But for people like me people who were 15 years old when Bon Jovi was at the height of its hairband ascension this weeks concert at Intrust Bank Arena is way bigger.
Huge, in fact.
Maybe even as huge as Jon Bon Jovis hairdos (and our own teased-and-sprayed bangs) were back in 1989.
The New Jersey-based band, best known for hits such as Livin on a Prayer, Bad Medicine and Wanted Dead or Alive, will perform at the arena Thursday night as part of its two-year world tour supporting its current album The Circle. (Tickets are UNBELIEVABLY still available.)
Bon Jovi has been together for 27 years, and the bands popularity endures today fueled by nostalgia for my generation and, apparently, by Guitar Hero addiction for younger generations.
Reviews from the cities the tour has already visited hint at a two-hour, high-tech concert thats equal parts old songs and new.
The set list, which apparently varies slightly from city to city, promises to include hits such as You Give Love a Bad Name, Bad Medicine, Bed of Roses and encore performances of both Livin on a Prayer and Wanted Dead or Alive.
But its equally populated with lots of newer songs from The Circle, including current single Superman Tonight, Thorn in My Side, Loves the Only Rule, and the radio hit We Werent Born to Follow.
A month ago, I was among a group of journalists from cities the tour will visit who were invited to participate in a conference call with lead guitarist Richie Sambora and drummer Tico Torres.
Anyone who knew me in 1989 will be surprised to hear I even survived such an event. Back then, I was a high school sophomore with a serious crush on Sambora. (Why not J.B.J. himself? Who knows? I always had to be . . . different.)
Bon Jovis Kansas Coliseum concert that year was a huge deal. A friends dad drove us from Dodge City and waited for us in the parking lot while we enjoyed the biggest thrill of our 15 years.
Though my devotion has waned as Richie and I have both aged (hes 50 now), that phone interview was still a pretty hair-raising experience. I actually got to ask him a question, though Im certain I sounded like a total idiot.
After dutifully informing him that he would be performing at a new arena in Wichita, I asked Sambora if the band ever grew tired of playing the old stuff. Does Wanted Dead or Alive become at all dreary the three millionth time one performs it?
Honestly, lets put it this way, he said. Im not going to sit around in my house and play Livin on a Prayer. But when Im playing in front of people and Im playing it for people, it becomes something different. And it becomes an experience.
The bandmates touched on several other topics, including their belief that critics have never taken them seriously (and they dont care), their thoughts on the economy, and their blue-collar-based desire to keep ticket prices affordable.
In response to another reporters question about the secret to their longevity, Sambora noted that the crowds at Bon Jovis shows cover a huge age range, including young kids.
Theres like three generations of people coming to see us now, Sambora said. I mean, theres kids that are just discovering us now through Rock Band and Guitar Hero and stuff like that, which is very interesting the way theyre breaking music nowadays.
At the end of the phone call, I summoned all of my courage and asked Sambora if he saw the poster I was holding up at the Coliseum concert in 1989. The one scrawled in black Sharpie with the words I LOVE YOU RICHIE!! Because, I told him, I swear he looked at me and pointed to that sign. Did he remember that?
OK, I didnt actually ask that. But I know he saw the sign.
Note to self: Stock up on Sharpies and poster board before Thursday.